I toss a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into her lunch bag. Sloppily made, the jelly is dripping out of it onto the brown bag. Sliding across the kitchen, I grab my backpack and the bag, and run out into the cold morning.

Racing down the dirty asphalt of the road, I stuff my lunch into the broken black backpack whose right strap is hanging off it, broken. My family, if it can be called so, doesn't have the money to support me.

My mother had died two years ago, and my father had sunk into the comforting arms of drugs. He still worked, but his income was barely enough to pay for our rent, never mind food or a new backpack.

Panting, I stop in front of her first period World Geography classroom and fling myself into the seat just as the bell rings.

The teacher, late as usual, isn't here yet, so my best friend Ash leans across the aisle to talk to me. He has pale skin and dark hair that hangs to his shoulders. It is smooth and conditioned, and reflects the sunlight shining through the thin, wide window near the ceiling at the opposite end of the classroom. Neither of us are popular. Here, in this dilapidated neighborhood, the bullies rule the school. Only the richer ones can escape their firm hold. Ash is okay looking, if not for the little red pimples across his forehead. At a distance, they are hardly noticeable, but a bit closer and you can see them. He isn't picked on a lot by the bullies, but he probably shouldn't mess with them either.

"Carly," he calls. I turn towards him.

"Oversleep again?" he asks. I nod, still out of breath.

"Anything new?" I'm asking for any news of anything that happened yesterday at his football practice with one of the aforementioned bullies, Kara. Yes, it's a girl. Don't be sexist. Although you could hardly classify her as one. To be honest, she both looks and acts more like a guy, one of the disgusting ones. Not one of the nice ones.

She's buff and eats like a pig. Beating up younger kids in the hallways seems to be her favorite pastime, and she mostly picks on the puny ninth grade nerds. Just your stereotypical high school.

"Nothing new." He says. "The usual: Kara knocked out a few people, I managed to stay out of the way, our team is still mostly comprised of Kara."

Just then, the teacher walks in. I don't know his name, but what little hair he has is greasy and unwashed, and he always smells like some kind of food. I look at the clock. Only five minutes late, not bad.

"Today, we will be learning about World War II." He announces. A small girl, the smart one, raises her hand.


"You said we'd learn about Ancient Rome-"

"Today, we will be learning about World War II," he repeats firmly. The girl wisely stays quiet, because "talking back" can earn a trip to the principal's office.

The history lesson is the usual: boring information I'm pretty sure is only half right, and the teacher yelling at anyone who falls asleep.

But half an hour into the lesson, the principal herself stalks into the room and says, "Assembly right now." Then she leaves.

The teacher is still droning on and on, not noticing the principal's arrival and departure.

Once again, the studious-looking girl speaks up. "Teacher?"

He turns and frowns at her.

"The principal just told us that we're to have an assembly right now."

Looking at the rest of us for confirmation, which he receives, he dismisses us.

Out in the hallway, everyone is trooping towards the gym, where all the assemblies are held. There are no chairs set up, as there usually is, so we are all forced to sit on the dirty floor.

"What do you suppose this is about?" asks Ash, who is sitting next to me. I shrug, but it has to be pretty important to deserve an impromptu assembly.

When everyone has arrived and quieted down, the principal marches up to the front of the room. She seems nervous, and is wringing her hands as she stands up there alone.

"I'm afraid I have terrible news. Kara has been murdered, and her body was found five minutes ago by the police up in the creek." Instant uproar- why wouldn't there be?

"But- we go there every day!" Ash exclaims. He's just as surprised as I am- but why don't I feel surprised? I don't even feel the slightest bit of grief. She is mean and had almost turned on Ash yesterday, but she shouldn't deserve death.

I shrug, because there really is nothing to say to that.

"And I left you all alone." He had to leave early yesterday from the forest, where we both do our homework. A few years ago, we had found the little clearing among the close-growing trees, and we adopted it as our second home, to escape the pain and abuse in our real ones. Ash's parents were both alive, but were divorced. His dad was a successful lawyer who lived in a penthouse apartment, while his mother barely scraped by. They traded custody of him but normally his mother had him. Being as manipulative as he is and a total sneak, he managed to keep the situation away from other's notice, because, as he put it, "children are merely a burden to their parents, and if they can't survive on their own, they shouldn't be allowed to live." Of course, he wouldn't know in his sheltered little life.

I shrug again at his remark, but I barely suppress a shudder of apprehension as I remember how I'd felt a presence beside me yesterday as I'd sat there alone on the mossy dirt. It was probably just my own mind playing with me.

The principal finally quiets us down, a remarkable feat in and of itself considering the news that had just been delivered. From there, she handed off the microphone to our local chief of police; a weak and thin man I honestly didn't think could defend anyone very well, I'd be worried if I didn't know as a fact that he was extremely adept with guns of all sorts. If it came to hand-to-hand combat though, he wouldn't stand a chance. I figure that's the reason that whenever he's nervous, he runs his hand along the sleek gray killing mechanism hidden under his uniform jacket.

He gives a very planned-out speech that is obviously supposed to sound impromptu. It's the usual, as expected in books: everyone be careful, don't worry, just stay safe. As if that would help.

Little conversation ensues, and when dismissed back to classes, no one pays attention. A subdued and silent cloud has settled over us, despite the fact it is only about five weeks until summer. You know- the usual stuff you find it your average cliché of a book.

At lunch, the police chief shows up again, this time with good news, that is, as good as it can get when it relates to a murder.

"Kara's friend was with her and the time and although severely injured, has pulled through and just woken up in the hospital." Silence, although I can tell everyone is excited. "The only description he has is that the murderer had a long red scar up the top of his left arm."

"Keep watch for anyone who matches this description."

For the rest of the day, I can't help but finger the fabric covering the knife wound on my left arm.

Okay, so I know that I haven't updated any of my other stories- actually, I haven't been on my account- for a while. Sorry... I've had other things. Or rather, time to

do other useless things. And now that finals are coming up again, I'm going to start working on this. I'll try to work on the others too, though. So review? Please?